Archive for December, 2012

10 Anticipated Films of 2013

December 23, 2012

                                                                                             Oz Great And Powerful

Oz: The Great and Powerful

The world has been waiting a long time for a serious, well crafted Wizard of Oz film and here it is.

James Franco will star as the young Wizard in this Wizard of Oz prequel (in a role set for either Robert Downey, Jr. or Johnny Depp) and it will tell the story of Oz — a fast-talking huckster who wears a velveteen frock coat — and how he falls in love with Glinda (the Good Witch). The two combine forces to Fight the Evil Witches Evanora and Theodora. Mila Kunis will play Theodora, Rachel Weisz will play Evanora, and Michelle Williams is set to play Glinda. That’s a great combination of talent and sex appeal. Even more promising is the fact that this will be Sam Raimi’s first film since Drag Me to Hell.

 

Iron Man 3

The bad news is that Jon Favreau won’t be returning as director, but the good news is that Shane Black (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang) will, and Robert Downey, Jr. is still a commanding presence.

R.I.P.D

R.I.P.D, based on the Peter M. Lenkov graphic novel, is about a recently slain cop (Ryan Reynolds) who joins a team of undead police officers working for the Rest in Peace Department and tries to find the man who murdered him. It’s been bouncing around in development for a few years, but Reynolds has seemingly been enthusiastic about getting it in before the much anticipated Deadpool film. The good news is that Jeff Bridges is on board for the role Zach Galifianaki declined.

Oblivion

A fantasy about a former solider who is the last person left on Earth after a war with an alien race. When he encounters a crashed spacecraft with a lone survivor, the two set off on an epic adventure.

3 Things to note:

1) It’s an original movie, 2) it’s sci-fi, and 3) it comes from Joseph Kosinski, who gave us TRON: Legacy

The script comes from William Monahan who brought us The Departed

Robopacalypse

Robopacalypse scripted by Drew Goddard and based on a Daniel H. Wilson novel, holds immense potential. The novel is already a critical favorite, described as an Andromeda Strain for a new century.

Set the not-too-distant future, Robopacalypse is about robots that have made our lives a lot easier: they help clean our kitchens, drive our cars, and fight our wars — until they are turned into efficient murderers by a sentient artificial intelligence buried miles below the surface of Alaska.

Spielberg is directing and has locked in Aussie Chris Hensworth, Anne Hathaway and the amazing Ben Whishaw.

Monsters University

This is the Animated Film entry, and it looks to be a stellar year for CGI cartoons. For the first time, Pixar will have two movies in the same year, starting with the prequel to Monsters, Inc. — which will focus on the rocky relationship between Mike and Sulley during their days at the University of Fear.

The Gangster Squad

This will be director Ruben Fleischer’s (Zombieland) follow-up to 30 Minutes or Less, a period movie set in the 40s and 50s that chronicles the LAPD’s fight to keep East Coast Mafia types out of Los Angeles. The flick is based on a super-smart seven-part LA Times article called written by Paul Lieberman, and Gangster Squad was scripted by former Los Angeles Police Officer Will Beall (a writer on “Castle”). But why is it exciting? Check out the cast: Ryan Gosling, Josh Brolin, Anthony Mackie, and Sean Penn. That’s reason enough to be excited.

The Hobbit: There and Back Again

This is a gimme, the second half of The Hobbit movie that kicks off in 2012 with The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

Pacific Rim

Guillermo del Toro is a brilliant director, but the man spends so much time attaching his name to new projects that he never has any time to actually make. This one does officially have his brilliance added to the mix. The story is set in a future in which malevolent creatures threaten the earth, and it’s about how the planet bands together and uses highly advanced technology to eradicate the growing menace. It has big fucking movie written all over it. We actually haven’t seen del Toro take on a movie this massive a scale, but after Pan’s Labyrinth, I’m willing to trust.

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: Captain Nemo

David Fincher looks next to embark on 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. The rabbit in his hat this time may just be Michael Chabon, the Wonderboys and Kavalier and Clay novelist who has been tapped to adapt the script from Jules Verne’s classic novel. The focus will turn on Nemo and how created his underwater vessel, the Nautilus. It is a Disney remake, but I wouldn’t expect a Disney take from Fincher.

Elysium

Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, William Fichtner, Sharlto Copley are all locked in for Neill Blomkamp’s follow-up to District 9.

Set in the year 2159, where the very wealthy live on a man-made space station while the rest of the population resides on a ruined Earth, a man takes on a mission that could bring equality to the polarized worlds

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Hanna – Review

December 14, 2012

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“Hanna” starring the very brilliant Saoirse Ronan (Hanna), Eric Bana (Erik Heller) and Cate Blanchett (Marissa Wiegler) is a first-rate action thriller about a youthful female assassin brought to us by director Joe Wright (“Atonement”). Its underlying message draws on the negatives surrounding home schooling. It can be regarded as the thinking person’s Kick-Ass. Saoirse Ronan takes on a difficult role and smashes it with as much confidence as she did in “Atonement,” and “The Lovely Bones” in which she played much different characters.

 

I recommend seeing “Hanna” if you enjoyed the story of “Leon” aka “The Professional” and the creative/exciting action sequences of “The Matrix”.

The film begins superbly, with the young teenager Hanna practicing how to survive and kill in the wild, with the help of her strict yet loving father Erik Heller. The Australian and young Irish actors both have well developed German accents in the film, but in the beginning both characters live near the Arctic Circle. The DOP has done a stunning job gathering the beauty of this landscape.

 

Gradually most, not all, of the details surrounding this father – daughter team become clear. Hanna has been taught advanced and ruthless killing skills as a means of self-defense against powerful enemies. Her father, Erik, fears for her safety and his own. He is apparently an agent whose skills and knowledge are so formidable that a CIA officer named Marissa (Blanchett) is obsessed with capturing both him and the child.

When Hanna decides she is ready for the real world the two of them plunge back into a deadly confrontation with the CIA. It is here the audience begins to receive a skilful cross between a sad fairy tale and a high-tech action film. What many directors may have fumbled Joe Wright has combined two genres into an elegant exercise that perversely includes some sentiment and insight.

The audience is forced to contemplate how hard it is to be the young antagonist. You have never known anyone your own age nor even met a woman. You speak several languages fluently, including German, English, Arabic, Spanish and Italian. You are the master of martial arts and proficient at multiple weapons. Your dad has drilled you to memorise every word in an encyclopedia. Consequently you are overloaded with facts but have no real knowledge, at all, of the outside world.Image

 

Unlike other films surrounding highly trained lethal children Hanna has a great deal more to say. There is definitely a sensational combination between wit and the visual poetry of action. However it does not promote Hanna’s form of upbringing in the slightest. The constant struggle between all that she factually knows compared to the general everyday human behaviours that she lacks, constantly reminds us of the difficulties the young teen is continually going to face. 

Cate Blanchett gives an amazing performance that at times feels odd and slightly awkward. She allows little humanity into her Marissa which works perfectly as a more human Marissa would introduce tones that might not fit. Her objective is to use all means necessary to capture and essential kill both father and daughter. Tom Hollander’s performance as the sadistic and at time comical ‘Isaacs’, one of Marissa’s minions, is absolutely superb. 

It is my humble opinion that “Hanna” is fun, energetic and intelligent film making at it’s finest. It depends on stylistic order and discipline, a clear story map and ingenious action sequences. It is not all banging and flashing action with moral and emotional holes. There are a number of stunningly artistic scenes that are truly unforgettable.

All in all I give it… 8/10

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Dark Knight Rises – Review

December 14, 2012

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Ok so maybe the slightest feeling of disappointment was preordained. Maybe nothing at all would have met our expectations developed by ‘The Dark Knight’, which in my opinion revolutionized and set the standard for films based on comic books by being creative, intelligent, hard hitting and at the same time crowd-pleasing. For many long time Batman comic fans this satisfactory feeling came earlier than 2008. Batman Begins can be quite well argued as the summit of the trilogy for many, who feel it delves into Bruce Wayne’s intrinsic core better than its predecessors. With Christian Bale as his tortured superhero starting from 2005’s Batman Begins, Nolan has explored the complicated and conflicting motivations of man as well as the possibility of greatness and redemption within society.

 

As both director and co-writer on The Dark Knight Rises, Nolan is unrelenting in hammering home the dread, the sorrow, the sense of detachment and ineffectuality of a city on the brink of collapse with no saviour in sight. Gotham is under siege in ways that tonally and visually recall 9-11; what is obviously and quite frustratingly the island of Manhattan. Rather than seeming exploitative, it was just one of many examples of the script from Nolan and his brother Jonathan, making the franchise feel like a relevant reflection of our times. Identity theft, economic collapse and an uprising of the disgruntled disenfranchised have-nots against the smug, comfy haves also come into play quite glowingly.

“Ah you think darkness is your ally? You merely adopted the dark. I was born in it, moulded by it. I didn’t see the light until I was already a man; by then it was nothing to me but blinding!”

 

On a less than enthralling note however, The Dark Knight Rises is far too plot-heavy, obsessed with process, laden with expository dialogue and flashbacks that at times slow down the momentum. You may say the Batman world through Nolan’s eyes is supposed to be moody and introspective and I do agree and thoroughly admire the fact that he is willing to challenge his audience in this way. On the contrary I feel it takes some giant leaps with its characters which either make no sense, haven’t earned the emotions they’re seeking, or both. I personally felt it introduced too many new characters unnecessarily. I believe Catwoman although fresh and vibrant did not need to be added to this story at all and it wouldn’t have hurt the script to keep her out.

 

Gary Oldman as Commissioner Gordon and Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox are their usual dignified selves, but they don’t register the way they should because the film is so overstuffed.

                                 

 

The other woman in Bruce’s life, however, is woefully underdeveloped — which is a real problem because she plays a key role in the film’s climactic revelations.,  The romance that develops between Marion Cotillard’s Miranda Tate and Bruce Wayne is utterly unbelievable and one of the greatest flaws in the story.

 

 

 

As I have mentioned on more than one occasion but believe has necessary grounds for discussion – Product Placement throughout The Dark Knight Rises stands out in what I feel an unacceptable manner. Now any film maker will argue that without product placement many great films would never have the funding to be made the way they were. I can accept this to a certain degree but feel there are intelligent subtle ways to do it and there are insulting, pushy ways to do it. Wendy’s, Doritos, Under Armour, GNC, Saks Fifth and McDonalds were most notable and I have probably left out a few.

McDonalds was displayed with 3 separate stores in one sequence. This I find both dismal and feeble. Look closely in the scene towards the end, where Batman chases Miranda Tate – he in the ‘Bat’ & Miranda in the truck, and you will see two different McDonald’s stores on the right hand side of the road. Then just before Batman flies up and out of the street you will see a third McDonald’s symbol below him, which considering the moment of the scene has to be a 3rd shop in the one chase sequence. In the same sequence, the camera pans down the street for what seems a full few seconds, revealing an undamaged storefront bearing the name ‘Saks Fifth’. This takes away from the individuality and creativity I have come to enjoy and quite frankly expect from the Nolan’s.

                            http://youtu.be/wACBAu9coUU

                                         

(If you see video I need to hurt the respect given to Fincher for Fight Club by pointing out Girl With A Dragon Tattoo…Product placement ran WILD)

 

           

If you were anything like me you would have felt as though we were unfortunately left to wonder where the insane criminal mastermind ‘The Joker’ had scuttled off to when prisoners were freed from the newly constructed Blackgate Prison in Gotham City. Nolan has been quoted saying he did not want to disrespect Heath Ledger by bringing the Joker into The Dark Knight Rises in any way shape or form. Some can argue that Heath was a devoted and very talented actor that poured his life and soul into that role and it is in fact disrespectful to ignore him and the character altogether. I have heard that the novelization of “The Dark Knight Rises” may shed some light on his whereabouts.

                                   

 

The 415 page The Dark Knight Rises: The Official Novelization by author Greg Cox delves into the Nolan’s screenplay a little closer.

“Now that the Dent Act had made it all but impossible for the city’s criminals to cop an insanity plea, it (Blackgate Prison) had replaced Arkham Asylum as the preferred location for imprisoning both convicted and suspected felons. The worst of the worst were sent here, except for the Joker, who, rumor had it, was locked away as Arkham’s sole remaining inmate. Or perhaps he had escaped. Nobody was really sure. Not even Selina.”

Remember Selina Kyle (Catwoman) was held at Blackgate Prison for a short time!!

 

                             

All in all I don’t think it any way hurt the franchise. The dark Knight Rises is a film well worth seeing however it’s not flawless. I did enjoy more focus on Batman’s inner struggle and personal development. I did enjoy feeling a sense of dread and visually witnessing dismay (3 bodies dangling from a bridge a high light). I loved Nolan’s Inceptionesc scenes of grandeur – football field collapse takes the cake. I didn’t enjoy so many characters learning Bruce Wayne was Batman. I hated that GothamCity was so obviously NYC. I’m not sure Robin rising at the films conclusion is the final shot most fans would have liked. With all this in mind and after seeing it a third time I give it 7 out of 10.